There was doll-house where I once lived, a green-peeling paint-chipped doll-house with creaking floors and dark closets full of bones, an attic cob-webbed and insulated with dark-scribbled paper-words, beetles scamp-scurrying through the garden, moving like a lucid night terror amidst the tiny gravestones. The walls were papered with dusty moth-wings, moon-white and iridescent, stuck with the glue of my own blood. I kept this house in the back woods, behind the shed, where fragmented patches of light beamed like Jacob’s Ladders down through the trees. My hide-away-from-the-world.

It was there I collected dead things to play with: little sparrows with steaks of brown through their lovely decay, limp feathered bodies black-taped to the pelvis and legs of broken barbies.

I found a old doll’s head once, the eyes poked out like maggot-holes, the hair ratty tangles, and I filled it full of earthworms that looked like wiggling squirming brains. It is amazing how you cut worms into so many thick writhing segments and they manage to stay alive. Sometimes I would hear them screaming inside my head as they inched together, trying to attach the pieces of their severed bodies.

In the garden I planted dead snakes and salamanders, plush-velvet mice with beady black eyes, my cat’s tail that had fallen off after it was slammed in the screen door, warty toads, pet hamsters and goldfish. I made little tombstones out of rocks, and watched the dead-things grow, fertilized by slow decomposition, blackness seeping-creeping up through the ground like sewer-sludge, bubbling bloated stale-water brooks, grotesque flowers both violent and cruel, deep blood-red-purple, their velvety blossoms quivering like vagina-flowers. I fed them bits of flesh and blood.

There was a swamp beside our house, a black lagoon, with slinky-slimy things slithering through the stagnant murk. The trees here were swollen and warped with bulging ulcers, their knotted roots sucking darkness from the foul quagmire, their branches twisted with creeping moss and decay.

They reminded me of the violently distorted bodies of old men, exposed to hideous tortures, their bodies bent and broken and tumorous, trapped inside the body of a tree. Grotesque living statues. The trees oozed a black substance like tar, as if weeping or bleeding.

One day I found a small plastic kit with a bright yellow happy-face sticker affixed to the lid in the woods behind the shed, up where the junkies and winos lived in their cardboard boxes, burning twig and paper pyres into blackened soot, shooting sugar-smack and drinking cans of lysol, smoking other-people’s-butts. This treasure-box was full of hypodermic needles and syringes, scalpels and bloody gauze. I filled the syringes with black ink and pinned toads to broken boards by their webby-feet, injecting black-poison-ooze into their rubber-tummies while their mouths opened and closed like bloated-faced guppies. They died slowly, while I would slit their flesh with a sharp scalpel, peel back their skin and shiny-shivering intestines, turning them inside-out. Then I would feed them bits of severed earthworm, pieces of my mind, and watch them swallow and digest the meat. They were always hungry for more.

The swamp has long been paved over by asphalt and a high-rise has grown out of the murk and decay, tall, dull and faceless. Behind my house the shed still stands, but the dark woods were long ago bulldozed. A foundation was built some years ago, and the project went bankrupt, so now cement pillars with rebar arteries jut out of the ground like severed limbs.

The neighborhood kids still go up there, late at night, burnt offerings of twig, paper, plastic, scorching the dirt, smoking cigarettes and reefers, chug-a-lugging jungle-juice lifted from their parents liquor cabinets. I can hear them laughing at me through my walls. They are greedy little creatures.

This house has passed through three generations. From crone to mother to me, the three phases of the moon. I have become the crone, the terrible devil-goddess of death, queen of shades, planting seeds in my garden and waiting for them to bloom.

The wallpaper has yellowed and is peeling on the edges, flesh peeling away to exhume the bones of this old house. I keep the doors to my closets closed, still I see the blackness seeping rivers of blood from underneath.

Text from Darkness Within